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Hi everyone,

I am having a bit of a dilemma! I am currently a student at a small community college in Maine. I started in 2015 and got my Associate in Applied Science in Medical Assisting a year ago this past May. I became certified through the AAMA and started working right away. I worked as a float in rheumatology, neurology, family practice, and OMT specialty. All very beneficial to gaining the knowledge I now have. I initially got my MA degree so I could start taking classes towards my bachelors degree and I would also have a job that would get my patient contact hours that I needed to apply to the PA program. I then realized that school was expensive and got the idea I should apply to nursing school since my school already offered the program and it is very affordable ($92 a credit hour- I am able to pay out of pocket!). I just completed my first year of the nursing program and have one year left before getting my RN degree. I like nursing and think that it takes a very special person to be a nurse- it is not easy! When I decided to go for nursing I let go of the PA dream and figured that I could take baby steps and get my NP degree. First my ADN, then BSN, and then NP. I was offered a paid summer nursing intern position at our local hospital. I have been working as a Tech in ER and floating around shadowing different nursing positions. They do this to help recruitment and allow students to see what they might like when they graduate. Often they offer students a per diem Tech position while they finish their last year of nursing school. I have gotten to work side by side with PAs, NPs, MDs, DOs, through this program and my MA work. I now still feel very passionately that I want to become a PA. I like the training that PA's get versus NP's, I do not like online course work that most NP programs offer. My learning style is more lecture, take notes, study those notes! After talking with a recent NP grad I was a little upset to learn they only practiced 2 hours of suturing in her program (her FNP program was live, not online). From what I have heard NP's don't cover a lot of technical training that a PA does. Ideally I would like to work in an acute care setting such as the ER as a midlevel. This leads me to another point, PAs have so much mobility they can go wherever whenever they wish. They don't have to specialize in certain age groups or settings. If I went to be an NP I definitely feel I would have to go to become an Acute Care NP. Down the road if I ever decided I wanted to go into a different specialty I would have to take a post masters certification. I also like that PA's get more experience in different areas during clinical. NP's do have a lot of experience as you must hold a valid RN license and have been an RN for a couple years, but they don't the same clinical experience that a PA does. The nursing model is good, but I don't love nursing everything is theory theory theory. I like the medical model- what it causing the problem and treat it! I feel as a PA you can still be holistic and treat the person as whole like NP schools emphasize. A conversation about diet and exercise with you patient is not going to hurt. Many people have told me that since I am going to be a nurse I should just go the NP route and as great as that could be it doesn't sound right. My opinion is that becoming a nurse will look good as patient experience coupled with my MA and Tech experience. I don't feel like I have wasted time and that I am learning A LOT! My next step is to figure out how to get a bachelors degree for PA school. Most pre-PA programs grant graduates with a biology degree. This is where I am torn- do I get my BSN online in a year or so or do I get a different degree. The online BSN program gives me a lot of versatility in work schedule as a nurse and then I will have to take my bio 1+2, chem 1+2, Organic chem, stats, and a few other pre-reqs for the PA program I am looking at. Or should I try and use both of my associate degrees towards a bachelors and see what degree I can get that would include the pre-reqs, basically skipping the BSN. I feel as though getting a BSN would be a waste of time, but I don't know if my previous classes will count towards any bachelors other than that. I guess then that there is always the question of not getting into PA school, at least I would still be an RN. I could then figure out where to go from there. Any insight would be greatly appreciated! Thank you all. ? 

Best,

Tyler P.

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Get the BSN and take pre-pa work on the side. that leaves the NP option open for you should you decide to pursue it at a later time. With a BSN you could take your pre-pa coursework at a community college at low cost and would not have a problem getting into pa programs. best of luck whatever you decide. 

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Go the BSN route and take the prereqs on the side. MA/ER Tech/CNA/Scribe are on the lower side of PCE, and some schools don't even take them as their PCE. It's not a waste of time to get a BSN because with a RN you not only get to get paid a lot more than the above PCE, you also acquire high quality PCE. MA's make like $12 an hour while RN's make like $25-$30 an hour.

There are some applicants that have high GPAs and lots of PCE, and still don't get accepted. On an interview I went to, an applicant got accepted to PA school after 7 cycles. I would rather wait to get accepted with RN pay and high quality PCE  than MA/ER Tech pay and low quality PCE for 7 cycles. You can pivot to anything from NP, MD, or DO if you didn't want to do PA since the PA prereqs basically cover everything. 

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It looks like you're giving it a lot of serious thought. That's great. I would say to get your BSN for sure. Hopefully you'll get in several of the PA school prerequisites with this curriculum and you'll have great PCE. 

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59 minutes ago, EMEDPA said:

Get the BSN and take pre-pa work on the side. that leaves the NP option open for you should you decide to pursue it at a later time. With a BSN you could take your pre-pa coursework at a community college at low cost and would not have a problem getting into pa programs. best of luck whatever you decide. 

I agree and would like to add to stop using the word mid-level. There is nothing about a PA that is "mid." I like to say "Advanced Practice Provider" or "Medical Practitioner", this wordage changes a lot. Good luck!  

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1 minute ago, camoman1234 said:

I agree and would like to add to stop using the word mid-level. There is nothing about a PA that is "mid." I like to say "Advanced Practice Provider" or "Medical Practitioner", this wordage changes a lot. Good luck!  

Couldn't agree more. Mid-level is for management, not medical practitioners who diagnose and treat patients. 

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